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Fort Lauderdale is a city in the State of Florida, on the Atlantic coast 23 miles (37 km) north of Miami. It is the county seat of Broward County. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 165,521. It is a principal city of the South Florida metropolitan area, which was home to 5,564,635 people at the 2010 census.
The city is a popular tourist destination, with 10.35 million visitors in 2006. Fort Lauderdale is sometimes known as the "Venice of America" because of its expansive and intricate canal system. The city is a major yachting center, with 42,000 resident yachts and 100 marinas and boatyards in 2006. Fort Lauderdale and the surrounding area hosted over 4,000 restaurants and 120 nightclubs in 2006.
Fort Lauderdale is named after a series of forts built by the United States during the Second Seminole War. The forts took their name from Major William Lauderdale, who was the commander of the detachment of soldiers who built the first fort. However, development of the city did not begin until 50 years after the forts were abandoned at the end of the conflict. Three forts named "Fort Lauderdale" were constructed; the first was at the fork of the New River, the second at Tarpon Bend on the New River between the Colee Hammock and Rio Vista neighborhoods, and the third near the site of the Bahia Mar Marina.
The area in which the city of Fort Lauderdale would later be founded was inhabited for more than a thousand years by the Tequesta Indians. Contact with Spanish explorers in the 16th century proved disastrous for the Tequesta, as the Europeans unwittingly brought with them diseases, such as smallpox, to which the native populations possessed no resistance. For the Tequesta, disease, coupled with continuing conflict with their Calusa neighbors, contributed greatly to their decline over the next two centuries. By 1763, there were only a few Tequesta left in Florida, and most of them were evacuated to Cuba when the Spanish ceded Florida to the British in 1763, under the terms of the Treaty of Paris (1763), which ended the Seven Years' War. Although control of the area changed between Spain, United Kingdom, the United States, and the Confederate States of America, it remained largely undeveloped until the 20th century.
The Fort Lauderdale area was known as the "New River Settlement" before the 20th century. In the 1830s there were approximately 70 settlers living along the New River. William Cooley, the local Justice of the Peace, was a farmer and wrecker, who traded with the Seminole Indians. On January 6, 1836, while Cooley was leading an attempt to salvage a wrecked ship, a band of Seminoles attacked his farm, killing his wife and children, and the children's tutor. The other farms in the settlement were not attacked, but all the white residents in the area abandoned the settlement, fleeing first to the Cape Florida Lighthouse on Key Biscayne, and then to Key West.
The first United States stockade named Fort Lauderdale was built in 1838, and subsequently was a site of fighting during the Second Seminole War. The fort was abandoned in 1842, after the end of the war, and the area remained virtually unpopulated until the 1890s. It was not until Frank Stranahan arrived in the area in 1893 to operate a ferry across the New River, and the Florida East Coast Railroad's completion of a route through the area in 1896, that any organized development began. The city was incorporated in 1911, and in 1915 was designated the county seat of newly formed Broward County.
Fort Lauderdale's first major development began in the 1920s, during the Florida land boom of the 1920s. The 1926 Miami Hurricane and the Great Depression of the 1930s caused a great deal of economic dislocation. When World War II began, Fort Lauderdale became a major US base, with a Naval Air Station to train pilots, radar operators, and fire control operators. A Coast Guard base at Port Everglades was also established.
Downtown Fort Lauderdale
After the war ended, service members returned to the area, spurring an enormous population explosion which dwarfed the 1920s boom. The 1960 Census counted 83,648 people in the city, about 230% of the 1950 figure. A 1967 report estimated that the city was approximately 85% developed, and the 1970 population figure was 139,590.
After 1970, as Fort Lauderdale became essentially built out, growth in the area shifted to suburbs to the west. As cities such as Coral Springs, Miramar, and Pembroke Pines experienced explosive growth, Fort Lauderdale's population stagnated, and the city actually shrank by almost 4,000 people between 1980, when the city had 153,279 people, and 1990, when the population was 149,377. A slight rebound brought the population back up to 152,397 at the 2000 census. Since 2000, Fort Lauderdale has gained slightly over 18,000 residents through annexation of seven neighborhoods in unincorporated Broward County. Today, Fort Lauderdale is a major yachting center, one of the nation's largest tourist destinations, and the center of a metropolitan division with 1.8 million people.
Geography and climate
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 38.6 square miles (99.9 km2), 34.7 square miles (90.0 km2) of which is land and 3.8 square miles (9.9 km2) of which is water (9.87%). Fort Lauderdale is known for its extensive network of canals; there are 165 miles (266 km) of waterways within the city limits.
The city of Fort Lauderdale is adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean, includes 7 miles (11 km) of beaches, and borders the following municipalities:
On its east:
Sea Ranch Lakes
On its south:
On its southwest:
On its west:
On its northwest:
On its north:
Fort Lauderdale Beach
The northwestern section of Fort Lauderdale is separate from the remainder of the city, connected only by the Cypress Creek Canal as it flows under I-95. This section of Fort Lauderdale borders the cities of Tamarac and Oakland Park on its south side. Oakland Park also borders Fort Lauderdale on the west side of its northeastern portion. The greater portion of Fort Lauderdale in the south is bordered, along its north side by Wilton Manors.
Off the coast of Fort Lauderdale is the Osborne Reef, an artificial reef made of discarded tires that has proven to be an ecological disaster. The dumping began in the 1960s, with the intent to provide habitat for fish while disposing of trash from the land. However, in the rugged and corrosive environment of the ocean, nylon straps used to secure the tires wore out, cables rusted, and tires broke free. The tires posed a particular threat after breaking free from their restraints. The tires then migrated shoreward and ran into a living reef tract, washed up on its slope and killed many things in their path. In recent years, thousands of tires have also washed up on nearby beaches, especially during hurricanes. Local authorities are now working to remove the 700,000 tires, in cooperation with the U.S. Army, Navy and Coast Guard.
Fort Lauderdale has an official program for designating and recognizing neighborhoods. Under the Neighborhood Organization Recognition Program, more than 60 distinct neighborhoods have received official recognition from the city. An additional 25–30 neighborhoods exist without official recognition, although the city's neighborhood map displays them as well.
Fort Lauderdale features a tropical rainforest climate (Köppen Af) with little seasonal variation in temperature. Average monthly temperatures are always above 66 °F (18.9 °C) and average monthly precipitation is above 2.39 inches (60.71 mm). This qualifies the city's climate as a tropical climate, and the city does not have a true dry season. While significant rain does fall in winter, the majority of precipitation is received during the summer months (see climate chart below).
Summers ("wet season") from May through October are hot, humid, and wet with average high temperatures of 86–90 °F (30–32 °C) and lows of 71–76 °F (22–24 °C). During this period, more than half of summer days may bring afternoon or evening thunderstorms. The record high temperature of 100 °F (38 °C) was recorded on June 22, 2009.
Winters ("dry season") from November through April are warm and mostly dry with average high temperatures of 75–82 °F (24–28 °C) and lows of 59–67 °F (15–19 °C). However, the city experiences occasional cold fronts during this period, bringing high temperatures in the 60s °F (16-21 °C) and lows in the 40s °F (4-10 °C), lasting only for a day or so. Rare freezes do occur every few years, which are devastating to the tropical plants. Only once in reported history have snow flurries been reported in the air or trace amounts on the ground – on January 19, 1977. During the dry season (winter), brush fires can be a concern in many years.
Annual average precipitation is 64.2 inches (1,630 mm), with most of it occurring during the wet season from May through October. However, rainfall occurs in all months, mainly as short-lived heavy afternoon thunderstorms. Fort Lauderdale has an average of 143 rain days and 250 sunshine days annually. The hurricane season is between June 1 and November 30 with major hurricanes most likely to affect the city or state in September and October. The most recent storms to directly affect the city were Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Wilma, both of which struck the city in 2005. Other direct hits were Hurricane Cleo in 1964, Hurricane King in 1950, and the 1947 Fort Lauderdale Hurricane.
As of the census of 2000, there were 68,468 households, and 33,001 families residing in the city. There were 68,468 households out of which 19.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 32.2% were married couples living together, 11.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 51.8% were non-families. 40.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older.
The median income for a household in the city was $37,887, and the median income for a family was $46,175. Males had a median income of $34,478 versus $27,230 for females. The per capita income for the city was $27,798. About 13.8% of families and 17.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 29.0% of those under age 18 and 11.1% of those aged 65 or over.
Fort Lauderdale has a significantly higher percentage of foreign-born residents than the United States as a whole; the 2000 census data indicated that 21.7% of the city's population was foreign-born. Of foreign-born residents, 69.2% were born in Latin America and 17.3% were born in Europe, with smaller percentages from North America, Africa, Asia, and Oceania. In 2000, Fort Lauderdale had the twenty-sixth highest percentage of Haitian residents in the US, at 6.9% of the city's population, and the 127th highest percentage of Cuban residents, at 1.7% of the city's residents.
Like South Florida in general, Fort Lauderdale has many residents who can speak languages other than English, although its proportion is lower than the county average. As of 2000, 75.6% of the population spoke only English at home. Speakers of Spanish were 9.4%, Haitian Creole 7.5%, French 2.0%, Portuguese 1.0% and Italian 0.8%.
The city, along with surrounding cities Oakland Park and Wilton Manors, is known for its large LGBT community and has one of the highest ratios of gay men and lesbians, with gay men being more largely present, in the United States. The city is also known as a popular vacation spot for gays and lesbians.
Fort Lauderdale skyline, featuring Las Olas River House, completed in 2004. 110 Tower can be seen on the far right of the photo, and the spire of the Bank of America Plaza can be seen on the far left.
Fort Lauderdale's economy is heavily reliant on tourism. From the 1940s through the 1980s, the city was known as a spring break destination for college students. Cruise ships and nautical recreation provide the basis for much of the revenue raised by tourism. Fort Lauderdale now attracts a more sophisticated and affluent tourist, while largely ignoring the dwindling college crowd. There is a convention center located west of the beach and southeast of downtown, with 600,000 square feet (55,742 m2) of space, including a 200,000-square-foot (18,581 m2) main exhibit hall. Approximately 30% of the city's 10 million annual visitors attend conventions at the center.
The downtown area, especially around Las Olas Boulevard, first underwent redevelopment starting in 2002 and now hosts many new hotels and high-rise condominium developments. The downtown area is the largest in Broward County, although there are other cities in the county with commercial centers. Office buildings and highrises include Las Olas River House, Las Olas Grand, 110 Tower (formerly AutoNation Tower), Bank of America Plaza, One Financial Plaza, Broward Financial Center, One East Broward Boulevard, Barnett Bank Plaza, PNC Center, New River Center, One Corporate Center, SunTrust Centre, 101 Tower, and SouthTrust Tower.
The Fort Lauderdale metropolitan area foreclosures increased 127.4% from 2006 to 2007, or one filing per 48 households in the quarter. Fort Lauderdale ranks fourth in the list of top 10 metropolitan areas ranked by foreclosure filings per household for the third quarter of 2007.
Fort Lauderdale is a major manufacturing and maintenance center for yachts. The boating industry is responsible for over 109,000 jobs in the county. With its many canals, and proximity to the Bahamas and Caribbean, it is also a popular yachting vacation stop, and home port for 42,000 boats, and approximately 100 marinas and boatyards. Additionally, the annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, the world's largest boat show, brings over 125,000 people to the city each year.
Companies based in the Fort Lauderdale area include AutoNation, Citrix Systems, DHL Express, Spirit Airlines, and National Beverage Corporation. The largest employers in the county are Tenet Healthcare, which employs 5,000 people; American Express, which employs 4,200; The Continental Group, which employs 3,900; Motorola, which employs 3,000, and Maxim Integrated Products, which employs 2,000.
Gulfstream International Airlines, a commuter airline, is headquartered in nearby Dania Beach. An Online Trading Academy center is also located in the city.
Fort Lauderdale has a Commission-Manager form of government. City policy is set by a city commission of five elected members: the mayor and four district commission members. In 1998, the municipal code was amended to limit the mayoral term. The mayor of Fort Lauderdale now serves a three-year term and cannot serve more than three consecutive terms. The current mayor is John P. "Jack" Seiler. He succeeds the longest serving mayor, Jim Naugle, 1991-2009. Administrative functions are performed by a city manager, who is appointed by the city commission. Fort Lauderdale Fire-Rescue Department provides Fire and Emergency Medical Services.
The United States Postal Service operates post offices in Fort Lauderdale. The Fort Lauderdale Main Post Office is located at 1900 West Oakland Park Boulevard in the city of Oakland Park. Post offices within the city limits include Alridge, Colee, Coral Ridge, Gateway Station, Melrose Vista, and Southside Station.
According to 2000 census data, 79.0% of the city's population aged 25 or older were high school graduates, slightly below the national figure of 80.4%. 27.9% held at least a baccalaureate, slightly higher than the national figure of 24.4%. Broward County Public Schools operates 23 public schools in Fort Lauderdale. 2007 Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) results for Fort Lauderdale's public schools were mixed; while ten (of sixteen) elementary schools and one (of four) middle schools received "A" or "B" grades, Sunland Park Elementary School and Arthur Ashe Middle School received failing grades. Boyd Anderson High School, which is located in Lauderdale Lakes but whose attendance zone includes part of Fort Lauderdale, also received a failing grade. None of the three failing schools have failed twice in a four-year period, thus triggering the "Opportunity Scholarship Program" school choice provisions of the Florida's education plan.
Eight institutions of higher learning have main or satellite campuses in the city:
Broward College BC (Willis Holcombe Downtown Center)
Florida Atlantic University FAU (satellite campus)
Florida International University FIU (satellite campus)
Nova Southeastern University NSU (satellite campus)
The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale
University of Phoenix (Cypress Creek Learning Center])
Additionally, the Davenport, Iowa-based Kaplan University's Corporate headquarters and an academic support center are located in the city.
Local bus transportation is provided by Broward County Transit (BCT), the county bus system. BCT provides for connections with the bus systems in other parts of the metropolitan area: Metrobus in Miami-Dade County and Palm Tran in Palm Beach County. Tri-Rail, a commuter rail system, connects the major cities and airports of South Florida. In November 2006, Broward County voters rejected a one-cent-per-hundred sales tax increase intended to fund transportation projects such as light rail and expansion of the bus system.
Four railroads serve Fort Lauderdale. Florida East Coast Railroad (FEC) and CSX Transportation are freight lines, Amtrak provides passenger service to other cities on the Atlantic coast via the Fort Lauderdale station, and Tri-Rail provides commuter service between Palm Beach County, Broward County (including two stations in Fort Lauderdale), and Miami-Dade County.
The Wave (streetcar), a new 2.7-mile (4.3 km) electric streetcar system costing $125 million, is being planned for the downtown. Most of the construction funding will come from federal ($62.5 million), state ($37 million) and city taxpayers ($10.5 million), with approximately $15 million from assessments on properties located within the Downtown Development Authority. Broward County (BCT) has committed to operating the system for the first 10 years at an expected annual cost of $2 million, and has guaranteed funding to cover any shortfall in ridership revenues. The construction cost of $50 million per mile is considerably higher than other recently built streetcar projects, in part due to the challenges of building an electric transit system over the 3rd Avenue drawbridge.
Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, in neighboring Dania Beach, Florida, is the city's main airport and is the fastest-growing major airport in the country. This is, in part, attributable to service by low-cost carriers such as Spirit Airlines, JetBlue and Southwest Airlines, resulting in lower airfares than nearby Miami International Airport. Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood is an emerging international gateway for the Caribbean and Latin America. Miami International Airport and Palm Beach International Airport also serve the city.
Fort Lauderdale is home to Port Everglades, the nation's third busiest cruise port. It is Florida's deepest port, and is an integral petroleum receiving point. Broward County is served by three major Interstate Highways (I-75, I-95, I-595) and U.S. Highways such as U.S. 1, US 27 and US 441. The interchange between I-95 and I-595/SR 862 is known as the Rainbow Interchange. It is also served by Florida's Turnpike and State Highway 869, also known as the Sawgrass Expressway.
Fort Lauderdale is served by Broward General Medical Center and Imperial Point Medical Center, which are operated by Broward Health, the third largest hospital consortium in the United States. Broward General is a 716-bed acute care facility which is designated as a Level I trauma center. It is also home to Chris Evert Children's Hospital and a Heart Center of Excellence. The hospital serves as a major training site for medical students from Nova Southeastern University's College of Osteopathic Medicine, as well as nursing and paramedic programs from throughout the area. Imperial Point Medical Center is a 204-bed facility with a hyperbaric medicine program. Holy Cross Hospital, a 571-bed hospital operated by the Sisters of Mercy, was named by HealthGrades as one of the 50 best hospitals in the country for 2007.
As is true of many parts of Florida, the city's population has a strong seasonal variation, as snowbirds from the north spend the winter and early spring in Florida. The city is also sometimes referred to as "Fort Liquordale" because of its beaches, bars, nightclubs, and history as a spring break location for tens of thousands of college students. However, the city has actively discouraged college students from visiting the area since the mid-1980s, passing strict laws aimed at preventing the mayhem that regularly occurred each year. The city had an estimated 350,000 college visitors for spring break 1985; by 2006, that number had declined to about 10,000.
Fort Lauderdale is served by English-language newspapers South Florida-Sun Sentinel and The Miami Herald, Spanish-language newspapers El Sentinel and El Nuevo Herald, and alternative newspaper New Times Broward-Palm Beach.
Fort Lauderdale's arts and entertainment district, otherwise known as the Riverwalk Arts & Entertainment District, runs east-west along Las Olas Boulevard, from the beach to the heart of downtown. The district is anchored in the West by the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, and runs through the city to the intersection of Las Olas and A1A. This intersection is the "ground zero" of Fort Lauderdale Beach, and is the site of the Elbo Room bar featured in the 1960 film Where the Boys Are, which led in large measure to the city's former reputation as a spring break mecca. The city and its suburbs host over 4,100 restaurants and over 120 nightclubs, many of them in the arts and entertainment district. The city is also the setting for the 1986 movie Flight of the Navigator, and host of Langerado, an annual music festival.
Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale is the current home of the Second Division Fort Lauderdale Strikers which play in the current incarnation of the North American Soccer League. It was previously the home of the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, which played in the previous version of the North American Soccer League. The Miami Fusion of Major League Soccer played at this stadium from 1998 to 2001. The Florida Atlantic University Owls football team played its home games at Lockhart Stadium from 2003 through 2010.
Although Fort Lauderdale does not host any top division professional sports teams, the Florida Panthers of the National Hockey League play at BB&T Center in suburban Sunrise. Major League Baseball's Miami Marlins, the National Football League's Miami Dolphins and the Miami Heat of the National Basketball Association all play in neighboring Miami-Dade County.
The New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles used to conduct spring training in the city at Fort Lauderdale Stadium, and NCAA Division I college sports teams of Florida International University and University of Miami play in Miami-Dade County. Florida Atlantic University's athletic programs (other than football) are played in neighboring Palm Beach County.
Fort Lauderdale is also home to the Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Complex, which is located at the International Swimming Hall of Fame. It contains two 25-yard (23 m) by 50-meter competition pools, as well as one 20 by 25-yard (23 m) diving well. The complex is open to Fort Lauderdale residents, and has also been used in many different national and international competitions since its opening in 1965. 10 world records have been set there, from Catie Ball's 100 m breaststroke in 1966 to Michael Phelps' 400 m individual medley in 2002.
Sites of interest
In addition to its museums, beaches, and nightlife, Fort Lauderdale is home to the Fort Lauderdale Swap Shop, a large indoor/outdoor flea market and the site of the world's largest drive-in movie theater, with 13 screens. The International Swimming Hall of Fame is located on Fort Lauderdale beach, and houses a large aquatic complex as well as a museum, theater, and research library. Hugh Taylor Birch State Park is a 180-acre (0.73 km2) park along the beach, with nature trails, camping and picnicking areas, canoeing, and features the Terramar Visitor Center, with exhibits about the ecosystem of the park. The Henry E. Kinney Tunnel on US Route 1 is the only tunnel on public land in the state of Florida. It was constructed in 1960, and its 864-foot (263 m) length travels underneath the New River and Las Olas Boulevard. The James Randi Educational Foundation is also located in Fort Lauderdale.
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